The practise of the placing of flowers on a grave would seem to go back at least two thousand years. At this time the family members would create a small garden by at the graveside for the use and enjoyment of the soul of the deceased. Today the placing of cemetery flowers are a sign of love and respect. A means of showing that we still care about and remember that person in life.
These cemetery flowers may be fresh from your garden or flower shop, or could be an artificial – or faux – variety. The question of which to place has no right answer and will likely depend upon the factors outlined below.
What are the best cemetery flowers?
What is ‘best’ for one grave may not be ‘ best’ for another. The section below regarding cemetery regulations makes this clear in a very obvious way.
But there are also very practical issues to consider. Yes fresh flowers will look gorgeous – but for how long? For those family members who live close by and have the time available to visit the grave regularly this could be the ideal option. But for many of us, visits on birthdays and anniversaries are difficult enough. Knowing that the graveside is still decorated with artificial – though real looking – flowers on a longer basis can be a great comfort and blessing. Not that they can be left indefinitely – faux flowers will still fade or get blown about.
Wreaths may also be a good idea as they tend to be treated to make them last longer. They can still appear ‘whole’ even after the flowers themselves have died.
What types of flower?
This isn’t another site which lists every type of flower against it’s traditional meaning. By all means follow this if you would like to do so – there is certainly no harm in it. But we feel strongly that the choice of flower should be up to you regardless of ancient symbolism. What does it matter if lavender supposedly symbolises distrust? If you like lavender, and the deceased liked lavender, then surely this is the perfect flower to bring to the grave?
So the flower type is more about what it means to you personally for whatever reason. There may be no specific flower which he or she favoured – it could be a simple matter of what appeals to you at the time or comes with the season. Very often it’s a case of choosing a color as opposed to a specific flower which seems to make perfect sense.
Vases & holders for cemetery flowers.
There are any number of holders and cemetery vases available. Many are already built into the headstone design but stand-alone holders are easy to obtain. Some will attach to the headstone and some can be inserted into the grass. And many more can be bought – or inscribed – with tributes or poems.
Are there any regulations to follow?
Quite possibly – each cemetery will have their own rules and regulations. This may appear harsh when discussing something as simple as cemetery flowers but there will be sound reasons behind it:-
- Appearance – each cemetery authority will have their own idea as to how they expect their burial ground to look. Some may be happy as long as all is tidy, while others may demand a strictly uniform look – for the cemetery monuments as well as the graveside decorations.
- Maintenance – this is linked to the point above. There are cost implications to the tidying of gravesides or the movement of graveside cemetery flowers or mementos while grass cutting. Many cemeteries are moving towards using only flat bronze grave markers for this very reason.
So check your cemetery regulations before placing your flowers. It will be very few who impose a complete ban. Most will simply have rules in place – such as the need to use a vase / flower holder or the requirement to remove dead flowers within a certain time. Or possibly have rules on certain types you can leave - such as faux flowers only.
Planting cemetery flowers or plants.
This is slightly different for obvious reasons. The maintenance issues involved in plants – or bushes! – which grow and spread could be immense. This will usually be fine for natural burial grounds where the whole area is devoted to the growth of plants, flowers and trees.
For traditional cemeteries the rules are very likely to be tighter. Again, check with the cemetery authorities before you even consider planting anything – even if you see others have already done this. It may be they have already requested permission and / or agreed to certain conditions beforehand. It could also be that while it’s not permitted to plant upon the grave itself, there are perimeters around the ground where it is accepted. This could make an ideal compromise.
Aside from any actual regulations, there are also a few other considerations. It goes without saying that your cemetery flowers need to be relatively secure – you don’t want then to blow away as soon as you turn your back. However, be mindful of how you do this. Paper wrapping will quickly get wet and end up blown across the area as trash. And plastic wrapping and wires or ties could be harmful to animals.